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Making The Film

Elaine and Susan Sing Goodnight to Mishegas

Film by Barry Dornfeld, Debora Kodish
Produced by Philadelphia Folklore Project
Cinematographer: Barry Dornfeld and Debora Kodish
Sound: William Houston
Editing: Barry Dornfeld and Debora Kodish
Copyright: 2012, Philadelphia Folklore Project
15 minutes, Color
Original format: DV Mini, 2012
More Film Facts
Home streaming only. For other permissions apply to Barry Dornfeld, Debora Kodish or to the distributor, Philadelphia Folklore Project.



"Elaine and Susan Say Goodnight to Mishegas" is a short playful documentary that tells the story of a song, explores how a significant local klezmer tradition is extended (and remains relevant), and meditates on the craziness of the world. The piece explores a traditional song performed by klezmer trumpeter Susan Lankin Watts, her mother, the great klezmer percussionist Elaine Hoffman Watts, and others. The melody was in Lankin Watts' grandfather's repertoire: a treasure trove of musical traditions in Eastern Europe at the turn of the century. Lankin Watts put new English/Yiddish words to the tune. In the documentary, audience members sing along with the song, reflect on what "mishegas" or craziness means to them, and share their hopes for the future. "Goodnight to Mishegas" explores how new generations of Philadelphians find their own meanings in a century-old tradition.

The film includes the following musicians and contributors: Elaine Watts, Susan Lankin Watts, Jay Krush, Rachel Lemisch, Jason Rosenblatt, Audrey Welber. Speakers in order of appearance are: Susan Lankin Watts, Ariel Ben Amos, Casey Cook, Alan Zemel, Susan Schewel, Lori Keammerer, Eileen Siegel, Ernie Watts, Bradley Siegel, Sarah Kodish-Eskind, Douglas Siegel, Kevin Schott, Carmen Valentino, Rakluniel Pelz, Elaine Watts, Hannah Kliger


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